Total Film|July 2020
Nothing you are about to see is true,” warns True History Of The Kelly Gang early on, setting the agenda for a forthright shake-up of historical-portrait tradition. Director Justin Kurzel pins himself to that promise with punk-literate purpose in his fierce, fractured take on Australian-outlaw legend. Rediscovering the psycho-pathological clout of Snowtown and Macbeth after Assassin’s Creed, Kurzel tackles the Ned Kelly story with the energy of a director confident enough to punch his weight, pummelling a much-told tale into new shapes.
Previous treatments were not so bold. While Story Of The Kelly Gang (1906) survives only in fragments, a 1970 star vehicle muffled Mick Jagger’s charisma. In 2003’s retelling, Heath Ledger’s punk-clown potential quickly vanished amid blandly romanticized myth-making.
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